Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
BAIRN, Bearn, n. and v. [bern, bɛrn]
(1) A child, male or female; offspring of any age. Gen.Sc.
Sc. 1909 Green's Encycl. Law Scot. 568:
In the law of succession, the Scotch word “bairns” means the children or issue of a person. Sh. 1888 Edmonston and Saxby Home of a Naturalist 285:
When he cam to my side I pointed to oor bairn and I said, “She's the only thing o' the kind that we hae.” n.Sc. 1743–1744 D. Cameron of Lochiel in Gael. Socy. of Inv., Unpublished Letters of Simon 12th Lord Lovat (1886) 368:
I beg leave to assure you and her, and all the lovely Bearns, of my most humble duty and affectionate respects. Abd.(D) 1915 H. Beaton At the Back o' Benachie 95:
Cricky, 'oman, bit they are mair sharp nor the very minister's bairns, an' them jist the scaddins o' the streets! Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 28:
I didna ken whaur I was, or what I was daein, nae mair nor a soukin bairn.
(2) Denoting the time of childhood; in childhood.
Rxb. 1921 Hawick Express (27 May) 3/7:
Here leeved Betty Whutson, bairn an' wuman.
(3) Having the nature of a child.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 1:
Auld men are twice bairns.
(4) A peculiar extension of this word is used by fishermen in Orkney to mean the smaller of the two hills in taking their directions [Meeths] at sea. (See Marw.)
We'll bring yin [yon] bairn in a line wi' the Brough o' Birsay.
(5) A term of contempt.
Jock's naething bit a bairn, a big bullyin' breet. Gall. 1898 A.W. in E.D.D.:
Bairn, is used sometimes in a pitying or semi-contemptuous sense, of a weak-minded or childish person.
2. v. To render pregnant.
J. M. was bairning S. T. Ayr. 1827 Burns ed. Merry Muses 14:
I've bairn'd the servants, gilpies both Forbye your titty Leah. Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 47:
Bairn, to get (a woman) with child.
3. Combs.: (1) Bairn-clouts, a baby's clothes.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags iv.:
An' ye can help Jean to sew her bairn-clouts.
(2) Bairn-folk, children.
Knr. 1891 “H. Haliburton” Ochil Idylls 57:
A lang array o' bairn-folk Thrangin' up was seen.
(3) Bairn's-bairn, a grandchild.
Gweed luck ta ye, ma lassie, an' may ye dandle yir bairn's bairns on yir knee. Hdg. 1932 (per Edb.1):
Wee Annie is Elspeth's bairn's bairn.
(4) Bairnswoman, a child's maid or nurse.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail ii.:
Eh! Megsty, gudeman, if I dinna think yon's auld Kittlestonheugh's crookit bairnswoman.
4. Phrases: (1) Bairn nor birth. (See quot.)
Sc. 1879 Jam.5:
“She has neither bairn nor birth to mind,” denoting that a young woman is totally free of the cares of a young family.
(2) Bairns o' Falkirk, inhabitants of Falkirk.
Slg. 1879 R. Gillespie Roundabout Falkirk 35:
The town coat of arms which had the well-known motto “Better meddle wi' the deil than the bairns o' Falkirk,” indicates a phase of temperament which will be better left unexplained.
(3) John Tamson's bairns, of one stock or family, friends.
Lnk. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy, App. x.:
In the West Country . . . when a company are sitting together, sociably, and a neighbour drops in, it is usual to welcome him thus: — “Come awa, we're a' John Tamson's bairns.”
(4) One man's bairn(e)s, meaning as in (3).
Sc. 1706 First Earl of Cromartie in Earls of Cromartie (ed. Fraser 1876) II. 4:
Then, whate're parties or persons doe manage and cary it [the Union] on, they have my best wishes . . . and then I hope that wee shall be all one man's bairnes.
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Bairn n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Nov 2020 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/bairn>
Try an Advanced Search